Don’t let anyone tell you that officers of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) haven’t mastered rapid-response tactics. All you have to do is dangle a porn star in front of them.
Just take the scene at Capitol Video Sales, 514 8th St. SE, on Dec. 19: The place was swarming with on-duty MPD officers, who were waiting to get their pictures taken with blue-movie star Vanessa Del Rio. The crowd prompted a store employee to joke that the police held a roll call at the store.
“We’re talking about officials, corporals and sergeants, not just the cops on the street,” says Capitol Hill resident Bryce Suderow, who witnessed part of the police lineup.
And they weren’t the only boys in uniform checking out the sights. Two D.C. firetrucks reportedly pulled up in front of the store and unloaded their crews during the six hours Del Rio was inside Capitol Video signing autographs and flirting with the District’s thin blue line.
While the cops made nice with Del Rio, a robber attempted to hold up the Citibank at 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, just three blocks from the video storeand got away clean, albeit empty-handed. First District police headquarters is less than three blocks away in the other direction.
Neighborhood crime watchdogs Suderow and Terry Kolp claim that the police response to the Citibank holdup was unusually slow, around eight to 12 minutes by their count. But Karen Brooms, manager of the Citibank branch, said this week that police arrived within three to four minutes after being summoned. Bank employees note that D.C. police officers, perhaps embarrassed by the Dec. 19 holdup attempt while so many in their ranks were cooling their heels nearby with a porn star, have been unusually attentive since, constantly stopping by without being called.
“The police have been extremely supportive since it occurred,” Brooms said this week.
First District Inspector Alfred Broadbent, entrusted with the unwelcome task of investigating how many of his on-duty officers were ogling the shapely porn star that day, said, “I haven’t heard any complaints about the amount of time it took to get there.”
Del Rio certainly can’t complain about the police response she received. The officers who turned out for her promo appearance adopted a new twist on zero-tolerance policing: They showed zero tolerance for official distractions that might keep them from catching a glimpse of their favorite porn personality.
Broadbent said if 30 of his officers did indeed pass through Capitol Video to share some afternoon delight with Del Rio, he will take action. “That’s extremely high. It’s unacceptable,” he said, noting that the internal investigation is “ongoing.” LL wonders what might have been an acceptable number of attendees.
The 1st District’s impressive show of force for Del Rio has been the buzz of crime-conscious Capitol Hill in the three weeks since her appearance. In December, the NationsBank branch at 666 Pennsylvania Ave. SE was held up twice, a woman was robbed and beaten in front of Riggs Bank, 650 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, and two residents were murdered near Lincoln Park.
This week, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton asked MPD Chief Larry Soulsby for an account of the department’s porn club field trip.
Del Rio makes frequent appearances in the D.C. area, and everywhere she goes, cops reportedly follow. “It’s not an aberration. Cops love porn,” observed one person who has witnessed other Del Rio events in D.C.
Although they were eager to see their idol, the officers refused to let a free-lance photographer snap photos of them with Del Rio. Some, however, did let a photographer hired by the video store capture them cozying up to the porn star. They later left the store with the photos in hand.
The incident has sparked an anti-MPD backlash on Capitol Hill, a community that has pushed for a heightened presence of beat cops on its streets. These people are serious: The current citizens’ newsletter for Beat 27, the area around 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, encourages residents to come to a Jan. 21 meeting with reports of cops malingering on duty.
“Our banks are getting robbed, murders are way up, and the cops are cooping,” says Suderow, publisher of his own newsletter, Street Stories. “They’re hiding out in restaurants, bars, and video stores. Community empowerment policing means more than cops sitting in the Safeway parking lot.”
Maybe if some of the prostitutes working the streets of D.C. garnered some film credits, that might rekindle the officers’ interest in walking their beats.
ADAMS MORGAN ANC STANDOFF
Serving on an advisory neighborhood commission (ANC) may seem like a thankless, unappealing task in some neighborhoods, but apparently not in Adams Morgan. Outgoing ANC 1C Chairman Robert Pittman, doing his best “Baby Doc” Duvalier imitation, refused to relinquish his office after his term ended Jan. 2.
Third District police officers had to mediate the internal ANC feud last Saturday, when Pittman blocked the doorway of the ANC office at 1802 Vernon St. NW, refusing to let five newly sworn-in commissioners enter.
Three police cars rushed to the scene, which wasn’t hard to find since it’s only a block away from Third District headquarters at 1620 V St. NW. “As long as it’s not a murder, or drugs, the police will respond heavily,” observed a nearby business owner who witnessed the incident.
Even though his term officially ended when his successor, Daniel Horrigan, was sworn in last Thursday, Jan. 2, Pittman refused to give up his throne. He insisted that his reign didn’t end until the ANC held its first meeting this past Wednesday, Jan. 8, and he continued to schedule appointments and carry on as though he were still chairman.
When Horrigan and four other newly sworn-in commissioners arrived at the ANC office last Saturday afternoon, Pittman ordered them away and immediately phoned the police, expecting the officers to take his side. According to Horrigan, two patrol officers showed up to mediate the dispute. Pittman, unable to find anyone who agreed with his interpretation of the law after several frantic phone calls to city officials, finally relented and reluctantly left the ANC office.
Pittman, whose home phone has been disconnected, could not be reached for comment.
But he showed up at Madam’s Organ nightclub on 18th Street a short time later with a group of neighborhood residents in tow, prepared to negotiate the ANC’s position on the club’s liquor license renewal. The license renewal was scheduled to go before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board this week. However, Pittman was forced to back down again after finding ANC Commissioners Horrigan, Sheila McCormick, and James Coleman inside discussing the matter with the club’s owner.
Pittman did not seek re-election last fall after his fellow ANC commissioners discovered he no longer lived in the district he represented. In fact, Pittman had moved out of Adams Morgan altogether. Still, the other commissioners quietly decided to let him serve out his term as chairman, which Pittman tried to extend as long as possible.
WARD 6 RACE HEATING UP
While D.C. statehood advocate and Barney Circle freeway foe John Capozzi was announcing his candidacy for the Ward 6 D.C. Council seat last Saturday at the Heart and Soul restaurant on Capitol Hill, his rival the Rev. George Stallings fervently solicited voters outside. Since Capozzi sat in the front pew when Stallings announced his candidacy from the pulpit of his breakaway Imani Temple Church Dec. 8, the former Catholic priest said he wanted to return the favor.
But Stallings never made it inside the restaurant. He and campaign manager Linda Greene, a veteran of past Barry campaigns and an organizer of the 1995 Million Man March, corralled passers-by on 8th Street SE, while Capozzi pledged a campaign of “new ideas, new energy” to a packed house inside. The pledge was an old idea left over from his impressive but unsuccessful bid for an at-large council seat last year.
“I didn’t win, but I don’t think it’s right to quit,” Capozzi said of last year’s effort. “I think it’s important not to give up.”
After his announcement, the candidate and his supporters fanned out in the neighborhood to put up campaign posters, also left over from last year’s bid. The posters can be recycled because they merely proclaim, “Capozzi.” In preparation for future campaigns, the candidate might be well advised to print a new batch with the slogan, “Capozzi for anything.”
Even though he ended that contest $17,000 in debt, Capozzi said last weekend, “I think this is my opportunity.” He claims a fundraiser last month pulled in nearly $2,000 and paid off all old debts except the $15,000 he personally lent his campaign.
The Ward 6 council seat opened up after incumbent Harold Brazil defeated Capozzi and several others in the race for an at-large seat last fall. A special election will be held, probably in early May, to fill Brazil’s unexpired Ward 6 term. Brazil was sworn in to the at-large post Jan. 2.
Capozzi and Stallings are among at least six contenders expected to vie for Brazil’s old seat. After announcing his candidacy, Capozzi joined Stallings briefly outside in a harmonious and good-natured encounter.
Stallings, who left the Catholic church amid accusations of pedophilia, and who once burned a portrait of “the white Jesus” to dramatize his new brand of Catholicism for African-Americans, appears to have closeted his inflammatory rhetoric for the campaign. By appearing more moderate and tolerant, Stallings is hoping to avoid stirring up his sizable number of detractors and keep them at home on election day in what promises to be a low-turnout election.
Stallings’ announcement last month immediately shook up the race and toppled former Brazil aide Rob Robinson as the perceived front-runner. Former longtime council staffer Sharon Ambrose and University of the District of Columbia professor Howard Croft will also announce their candidacies in the next few weeks. Former Stanton Park Association President Tom Hamilton became the first official candidate when he filed in November.
But Stallings, as he energetically demonstrated last weekend, promises to be the pace-setter in this campaign.
When Mayor-for-Life Marion S. Barry Jr. met with citywide anti-liquor activists Dec. 30, Hizzoner told the group he had only one more day to decide whether to veto a bill that would exempt the Mansion from the ban on liquor licenses in neighborhoods. The 30 or so activists strongly urged the mayor to veto the bill that clears the way for the controversial Dupont Circle bed-and-breakfast, and other nonprofit clubs located in neighborhoods, to obtain liquor licenses in spite of the ban. Mansion owner H.H. Leonards and her lobbyist, David Wilmot, also attended the meeting.
Three days later, on Jan. 2, Barry told reporters he was still considering whether to sign or veto the bill, even though the veto deadline had passed New Year’s Eve. Barry’s inaction allowed the bill to become law without his signature.
Now, community leaders who met with Barry last week figure he will claim he got confused on the deadline because of the holidays and will try to pretend he’s still on their side.
Hizzoner is notorious for wanting to have it both ways…
Here’s one from the delayed reaction department:
After Barry and Robert Moore, the city’s chief negotiator on the downtown sports arena, were spotted in Bullets owner Abe Pollin’s box last January, downtown community activist Terry Lynch asked the Office of Campaign Finance to investigate. Lynch questioned whether it was a conflict of interest for Barry and Moore to accept free tickets and other favors from Pollin at a time when they were negotiating the arena deal with Pollin and his attorney, Peter O’Malley. Barry and Moore were seated next to O’Malley in Pollin’s box during a Chicago Bulls game in the midst of last winter’s historic blizzard.
Ten months later, Lynch received a reply. The Office of Campaign Finance informed him just before Christmas that it has decided to review the matter. And Lynch doesn’t even believe in Santa Claus…
Last week’s fatal crash near Dupont Circle caused by an official of the Republic of Georgia, which re-ignited the furor over the abuse of diplomatic immunity in D.C., has prompted embassy officials in town to take a closer look at their back yards.
When Marie Drissel informed her neighbor, the Embassy of Guinea, that she was going to cite its humongous garbage pile as a flagrant example of diplomatic disregard for the District during a Tuesday TV appearance on Fox Morning News, embassy officials scrambled. Drissel was summoned to a meeting at which officials of the African country claimed they had no idea so much trash had piled up in the alley. She says she has been trying for 17 years to get the embassy to hire a private trash hauler, as required by D.C. law.
This week, in the wake of the Dupont Circle crash and the ensuing uproar, embassy officials finally promised to do just that.
“A 4-foot-high mountain of trash is about to disappear,” a gleeful Drissel said Monday. CP
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